Over the last several years, high schools and colleges across the country have started embracing varsity esports, establishing teams and investing in their infrastructure and growth. This year, with so many activities moved online, that investment has taken on new meaning, and as the varsity season gets ready to kick off amidst the unprecedented structure and start of the 2020-21 school year, we want to recognize the organizations driving varsity eSports’ success forward.
PlayVS is an esports competition platform providing leagues, scheduling, and infrastructure to high school and college eSports programs in the United States. PlayVS is the official eSports partner of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which develops the rules of competition for the majority of high school sports and activities in the U.S., and they offer both a fall and a spring nine-week competition season, followed by playoffs and a championship for each. Huge in the youth eSports world, they have leagues for five different games in all 50 states and over 21,000 schools—and they are committed to promoting and fostering inclusivity, teamwork, and sportsmanship in the varsity eSports community. A win all the way around.
Another platform in the game, Generation Esports is a place for schools, businesses, clubs, and communities to connect, engage, and compete together. With their motto, “Engaging communities through esports,” they advocate for the benefits of eSports in all communities—among youth, in grade schools and colleges, in the corporate world and military, and for adult recreation. They offer STEM.org accredited programs at over 3,000 middle schools and high schools across the country, engaging over 80,000 students in total and providing an accessible platform to manage teams, communicate with other players, and get into competitions easily, among several other features. This fall, they give access to the High School Esports League’s 2020 Fall Major tournament, with eight weeks of regular-season matches for 13 different games and up to $1,000 in scholarships for each winner. Their Middle School Esports League 2020 Fall Major tournament runs for nine weeks nationwide, featuring seven different games and awarding winners with free gaming consoles.
Gen.G Elite Esports Academy
Leading Korean esports organization Gen.G has been in the game for a while as the dominating organization bridging the esports worlds between South Korea, China, and the United States, and in 2019, they decided they wanted to create opportunities for youth to get in and stay in the game for a while, too. Last year, the organization partnered with the global education company Elite Open School to open the world’s first fully-integrated Esports academic institution for high school students called Gen.G Elite Esports Academy, which hosts two teams of its own. The curriculum is taught in English and according to U.S. standards, but will feature entire units on League of Legends and Overwatch, as well as lecture series from professional eSports guest lecturers on everything from animation and coding to broadcasting production and professional management, in order to prep the students/players for future careers in those games. According to their website, Gen.G’s goal is “to serve the generation that is coming of age through gaming and esports,” but their mission extends to all people—players, creators, and fans—worldwide, helping them “to achieve their best through the games we love.”
Varsity Esports Foundation
The Varsity Esports Foundation was the first nonprofit created in the eSports industry in order to promote best practices industry-wide, proactively drive inclusivity in student gaming communities, expand the reach and accessibility of esports to low-income schools and students through grants and scholarships, and increase education and literacy around gaming and its benefits beyond the gaming world. The Foundation has a set of 10 grounding initiatives to provide the scope and focus of its work, including promoting diversity and inclusion, combating cyberbullying, encouraging study in STEM/STEAM subjects, educating students about healthy gaming habits as well as addiction, educating the public about the mental health benefits of video gaming, providing a sense and place of belonging, teaching internet safety and digital citizenship, and suicide prevention. They have resources for teachers, parents, students, donors, and schools, and offer ways for others to get involved if interested—a great overall resource for the whole gaming community and the future of gaming.
And then, there’s us! We are a community and resource for gamers everywhere at all levels. Our mission is twofold: (1) to educate and promote good health and wellness practices and products for gamers so you can play your best and, as we like to say, Win Well; and (2) to provide a community and network for gamers and affiliates, so those who want to take their gaming passion to the next level can start to make that a reality. And that extends to the high school and college varsity levels! Ritual Motion Varsity works with high school and college esports teams and leagues to set up their teams with storefronts and turn their brands into their own product lines and e-commerce platforms, including things like team-branded Warrior Gaming Skins, performance products like Ritual Motion Blade Series Gaming Glasses and Gaming Snacks and Nutrition Supplements. Varsity teams can also register to become Ritual Motion Team Affiliates, which provides a great route for additional fundraising and raising your team profile. Lastly, we offer select sponsorships and media partnerships for teams that express and demonstrate a unique need for support. We always like to help if we can.
Which great varsity esports organizations did we miss? Comment below…